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FOREX-Euro hits six-month high above $1.10 as Trump worries hit dollar
May 16, 2017 / 8:11 AM / 3 months ago

FOREX-Euro hits six-month high above $1.10 as Trump worries hit dollar

* Dollar falls broadly after reports on Trump and Russia

* Euro buoyed by expectations for strong GDP data

* Doubts creeping in over June Fed hike

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2017 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh

By Jemima Kelly

LONDON, May 16 (Reuters) - The euro rose above $1.10 on Tuesday to hit its highest since Donald Trump was elected U.S. president in November, as political turmoil and doubts over interest rate rises pressured the dollar, while traders expected robust euro zone growth data.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six other major currencies, and which rose to 14-year highs earlier this year on the view that Trump's plans for tax cuts and infrastructure spending would boost growth and inflation, fell to its weakest in over six months.

It was down 0.4 percent on the day at 98.555, down over 5 percent from its January peak.

Analysts said the latest weakness was largely a product of worries over reports that Trump had disclosed highly classified information to Russia's foreign minister about a planned Islamic State operation in a meeting last week.

That raised fears that Trump might not last his first term and that, even if he did, there were too many distractions for him to be able to successfully push through his economic stimulus programme.

"(The story about Trump and Russia) probably is playing out as a weaker dollar on the view that Trump may not be around long enough to deliver his tax reform, which is at least partially priced into the dollar," said RBC Capital Markets currency strategist Adam Cole, in London.

While the dollar was down across the board, the euro appeared to be the main beneficiary of its weakness, trading up as much as 0.6 percent on the day and reaching $1.10365, its highest since Nov. 9.

Traders were eyeing GDP data due at 0900 GMT, which was expected to show the euro zone grew at a healthy 1.7 percent year-on-year in the first quarter.

While the euro zone picks up speed, doubts are creeping in that the U.S. Federal Reserve might not deliver the June rate increase markets had been almost fully pricing in last week, after some weaker-than-expected U.S. data.

Investors are still pricing in around a 73 percent chance of a June hike, but that was down from a more than 80 percent chance last week, according to CME's FedWatch tool.

And Citi’s U.S. economic surprise index continues to plunge deeper into negative territory, falling to its lowest level since May last year, while the euro zone equivalent remains close to its highest levels of the year.

With concerns about political risks in the euro zone having receded after centrist Emmanuel Macron was elected France's president over far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen, focus is shifting back towards the outlook for monetary policy.

Investors are now focusing on when and how the European Central Bank (ECB) could scale back its quantitative easing given the recent strength in the euro zone economy.

"Long positions in the euro tend to be favoured now, given the chances that the ECB could discuss the possibility of future policy changes at its June meeting," said Shinsuke Sato, head of FX trading group for Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation in Tokyo.

"Overall, there seems to be a mood of looking for chances to buy (euros) on dips," he added.

Against the yen, the dollar fell 0.3 percent to 113.45 .

For Reuters Live Markets blog on European and UK stock markets see reuters://realtime/verb=Open/url=http://emea1.apps.cp.extranet.thomsonreuters.biz/cms/?pageId=livemarkets (Additional reporting by Masayuki Kitano in Singapore; Editing by Keith Weir)

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